Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 28:1-25, 1 Samuel 29:1-11, Deuteronomy 18:10-12, Proverbs 1:28
One frigid winter evening when my husband was still in grad school, I tried to call him. He had been out with friends after finishing finals, while I was already home for Christmas, several states away. When he didn’t answer his phone around 9pm, I wasn’t too worried. I called again an hour or so later, just before I went to bed, and he still didn’t answer. Then I sent off a few texts, each more worried than the last, hoping he would respond.
I darted in and out of sleep, checking my phone, calling, and texting, until about 4am, when he finally texted me back to say he had fallen asleep well before 9:00—the hard, deep sleep of a post-finals student who had forgotten to charge his mobile phone, rendering it useless. And while we were quickly able to laugh about it, I can still feel my heart racing when I think about how I felt that night, several states away, not able to get in touch with him for hours. I would’ve done anything for an answer, for the assurance that he was okay.
Saul is in a frantic panic in 1 Samuel 28. He knows the Philistines are ready to fight at Mount Gilboa. He knows God has rejected him as king (1 Samuel 15:23). He knows Samuel is dead—Samuel, who had been with him since his anointing, who’d walked with him and guided him in the ways of the Lord. Desperate for answers, Saul has sought the Lord about how he should face the Philistines. But the Lord is silent because He’s rejected Saul, leaving him to feel very, very alone.
And so Saul, the warrior king who’d chosen his own pride over the Lord so many times before, again seeks his own comfort and control first. He consults a medium—after declaring all mediums illegal and sending them out of Israel—for the answer he so desperately needs. He asks her to bring forth Samuel, who appears and tells Saul that he and his sons will die in the next day’s battle.
I can hardly breathe if I put myself in Saul’s shoes. The desperation he must’ve felt before visiting the medium would have been silenced by that cold truth. He would lose the battle. He would no longer be king, nor would his sons inherit the throne. The years of turning away from the Lord and seeking his own glory had left him there, alone.
When I think about how often I obsess over the future—running worst-case scenarios through my head, working myself into a panic—I realize that I’m tempted in the same ways Saul was. It’s so much easier to take matters into my own hands, to live for my own glory, and to forget about the Lord’s steadfast faithfulness. Perhaps if Saul had reflected on how faithful the Lord had been to the people of Israel, he would’ve trusted the Lord for one more day.
So the cup I have to drink today is the cup of the Lord’s faithfulness. It is to choose trust and faith over fear and control. It is to recite to myself the promise Moses made to Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:8:
“The Lord is the one who will go before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”
The Lord goes before me. He knows and numbers my days. And I have confidence through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that God always keeps His promises. I may not face Philistines in battle, but I will face temptation, fear, and death as surely as Saul did. And so I pray that an unshakable confidence in Christ will be my only and blessed assurance each day.
Melanie Rainer is the director of content for JellyTelly, where she writes and edits family spiritual formation resources. She is a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, a passionate home baker, and makes her always-messy home with her husband, Price, and their delightful daughter, Ellie, near historic downtown Franklin, Tennessee.